Personal Journeys with Gramma

Life adventures, inspiration and insight; shared in articles, advice, personal chats and pictures.

High Hopes, Ants, and Perseverance


When are you called upon to persevere? What does your effort look like? To persevere means “to continue steadfastly, especially in something that is difficult or tedious.” My husband and I think we’re using perseverance when we wrestle with insurance forms or return again and again, spending money we hoped to use elsewhere, to have our used car repaired first here and then there. But these past few months, we’ve had a living lesson in what perseverance can truly mean.

Each morning, we begin our day by taking a long walk down a nearby unpaved county road. It’s not a heavily traveled road, but it endures daily traffic of at least a half-dozen comings and goings. This summer has been a wet one for us, so the sand of our little road is periodically resurfaced into the creative swirls, washboards, and fissures we usually expect to see in a streambed. The effect is artistic…to us. However, at one point on the road, a miniscule parade struggles to survive.

Rain or shine, hot or cold, each morning tiny ants begin to organize themselves into a line, sometimes clumping together in one or two spots, but finally stretching their numbers across the width of the road. I have no idea what they could be accomplishing on the dirt and gravel. Aren’t they exposing themselves to predators?

They’re so small that we’re forced to stop and stare, searching for their movement, to see them at all. We don’t have to use much imagination to realize what even one careless footstep must mean to them, so we mark an arrow in the dirt at the side of the road when we first spot them to alert us, so we don’t decimate their troops on our return trip. Our efforts to be considerate don’t always work, however. Now and then we misjudge where the troops are and pause to search, only to discover we’re already standing on somebody.

We sigh as we watch—or drive—cars up or down the road (our access to our property), knowing each time four fat tires pass down the lane, ants must die. And then, when rains come powerfully enough to wash out sizable rocks, we know the water has to be flooding our brave ants, as well. But they don’t give up. As soon as the waters recede, there they are, sending out scouts, selecting the precise location for the day, forming their line.

I’m neither Henry David Thoreau nor an entomologist. I don’t understand what I’m seeing as I watch the ants every day. But I can’t help but respect the dogged determination that sends them on their way. They make me think twice about my own frustrations. When my expectations and preparations fail, I’m not quick to regroup and begin again. Yet we all know that the test of success is not whether you lose out (or are crushed by tires) but whether you try again. How can I allow myself to be less determined than a line of tiny ants? I’ll try again tomorrow.

One comment on “High Hopes, Ants, and Perseverance

  1. Frances Sullivan
    September 24, 2016

    My body is checkered with the tread of lots of tires, still I keep going. Hurray to that and hurray to you. Brilliant post. xx

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